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Selected Research Project
Project Title Socio-spatial Embeddings of Economic Actions: South Asian Ethnic Minorities in Hong Kong.
Principal Investigator Dr. Law Kam Yee
Area of Research Project
Social Studies
Project Period
From 1/2010 To 6/2012
  1. To investigate how structural factors, government policy, societal reception, and its co-ethnic community shape the economic activities of South Asian ethnic minorities;;
  2. To study how socio-spatial factors, residential patterns, and the socio-demographic nature of the neighborhood affect government policy, societal reception, and co-ethnic community, and vice versa; and
  3. To examine how socio-spatial factors, combined with structural factors, influence the capital accumulation of South Asian minorities and determine their economic conditions.
Methods Used
Key informant interviews, focus group interviews, field investigations, and in-depth case studies.
Summary of Findings
  • The co-ethnic community factor for Hong Kong South Asians has not significantly changed since the pre-War years. Their sub-communities’ internal resources may secure their economic wellbeing through mutual assistance. However, under a very harsh external environment, whether sufficient resources can still be continuously drawn remains questionable.
  • For practical concern of bettering the living of South Asian minorities in Hong Kong, the investigators find that the universal human rights discourse plays a significant role in developing social services with South Asian minorities, however, it cannot cultivate a culturally relevant social work practice that would create an ethnically equal society. Thus, indigenization, though an inherent assumption of professional social worker, is not necessarily exercised.
  • In the perspective of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) as the implementing agents of the policies’ social service aspects, five types of delivery model exist among NGOs that provide services to ethnic minority groups are investigated and analysed. Many implementation problems are evident in NGOs’ work, such as lack of autonomy and flexibility to experiment with innovative programmes and inability to spread the integration efforts from one district to others; the non-government supported NGOs are seriously constrained in terms of size and funding.
  • The study examines how three macro-historical processes, namely, colonization, industrialization, and globalization, induce the different configurations of three structural factors, namely, government policy, societal reception, and co-ethnic community, affecting the economic well-being of South Asian minorities in Hong Kong.
  • For practical concern of bettering the living of South Asian minorities, the study critically examines the complementarity of importing western universal practice and developing indigenous social work practice with immigrants in East Asian context, and concretely analyzes the implementing problems and limitations of the related NGOs.
  • All of these findings fill in the gap of theory and understanding of the target group, which should be significant and useful for policy reform and implementation in the near future.
  • Law Kam-yee & Lee Kim-ming (2013). Socio-political Embeddings of South Asian Ethnic Minorities°¶ Economic Situations in Hong Kong. Journal of Contemporary China, 84, forthcoming.
  • Law Kam-yee & Lee Kim-ming (2013). Colonialism, Sinicization and Ethnic Minorities in Hong Kong: Social exclusion and barely citizenship. Norman Vasu, Yolanda Chin and Kam-yee Law (Ed.), Nations, National Narratives and Communities in the Asia-Pacific. London: Routledge.
  • Law Kam-yee & Lee Kim-ming (2012). The myth of multiculturalism in °•Asia°¶s World City°¶: Incomprehensive policies for ethnic minorities in Hong Kong. Journal of Asian Public Policy, 5(1), pp. 117-134.
  • Lee Kim-ming & Law Kam-yee (2013). Social Exclusion in the "Pluralistic and Tolerant" Society: Ethnic Minorities in Hong Kong. In Law Kam-yee & Cheng Yu-shek (Eds.), On the Chessboard: Donald Tsang's Legacy for C Y Leung Hong Kong: City University of Hong Kong Press. (in Chinese, forthcoming)
  • Law Kam-yee & Lee Kim-ming (2014). Importing western values versions indigenization: Social work practice with ethnic minorities in Hong Kong. International Social work, forthcoming.
Biography of Principal Investigator

Law Kam-yee teaches social sciences at HKIEd. Before joining the Institute in February 2008, he was Associate Professor in the Department of Asian and International Studies at City University of Hong Kong, where he taught East and South East Asian Studies for more than 10 years.

Funding Source
General Research Fund